T shirt with embroidered nosegay

Just a little nosegay of flowers for this T shirt. The smallest person has quite a few navy blue leggings, so this T shirt should work well with them when she wants a bit of colour to enliven the classic navy her mother (and granny) love so much.

For the last sixteen years the packing up of family possessions and moving them around England to new homes has occupied large – and less enjoyable – chunks of my life. I sometimes dream of packing cases and then wake up with a jolt in the small hours of the night and find further sleep elusive as I magnify even the smallest complexities of the logistics of family members’ possessions. Daughter No 2 left Iraq just before lockdown and then headed for Cambodia, having changed both job and country. Her possessions were packaged up and sent here where they occupied a goodly amount of our once organised but now randomly cluttered garage. My five month stay in London brought more packing up as I rationalised Daughter No 3’s possessions into clear plastic boxes to be stored – well I wasn’t sure where! Aagh.  (Daughter No 3 has gone to live with Daughter No 2 in Cambodia and is now in the process of taking on a small hand made textile business bought for her by Daughter No 2). Worrying about where this latest consignment of possessions could go, I sent off a rather snappy email to Daughter No 2 and then spent the following months regretting my tone.

T shirt with hand embroidered nosegay of flowers (hand embroidered by Mary Addison)

A recent work trip to the Lebanon and Turkey meant Daughter No 2 was nearer England than Cambodia and in the spirit of answering her mother with action rather than words she diverted to London where, in between doing her job at a distance, she  spent the last week dealing with the technicalities of the great headache that had caused her mother lack of sleep.  By 9am on Friday morning, we had storage boxes lined up in the hallway of Daughter No 1’s Islington house awaiting her brother (my son) whom she had persuaded to take time off work in order to drive a hired van with both us and boxes to Cheltenham where a great re-ordering of storage was to take place. The Son (he has no number as he is my only son) was pleasantly surprised to see how organised we were, so we set off in a particularly affable mood more redolent of going on holiday than setting out a task none of us had any desire to do. And so – miraculously – the day continued.

Detail: T shirt with hand embroidered nosegay of flowers (hand embroidered by Mary Addison)

Fortunately Friday morning was not a busy time at the storage unit where Daughter No 2 had rented a decently sized though not enormous space. Knowing it was already full, we’d previously decided that a large sofa had to go. Of course, the sofa was stashed away at the very back but in no time at all a ragged line of our possessions trailed in a series of small piles,  pyramids and teetering heaps along almost the full length of the corridor. The sofa was taken down to the forecourt and, just as Daughter No 2 had arranged, there was the man scheduled to pick it up and take it away. Perfect. (I should have known that someone who organises the removal of lethal landmines for a living would sail through the task of removing an innocent item of household furniture devoid of incendiary possibilities).  Daughter No 3’s boxes from London slotted in beautifully – towers of 5 at a time – and gobbled up surprisingly little space. Daughter No 1’s boxes of baby clothes were removed for me to sort through for a friend who had just taken on guardianship of a six month old.

T shirt with hand embroidered nosegay of flowers (hand embroidered by Mary Addison)

On next to the garage by our house in Cheltenham. Here Daughter No 2 was to repack her cardboard boxes from Iraq. Soon, the garage forecourt looked like a Bedouin encampment as rugs, quilts and sundry exotic textiles lay strewn around while Daughter No 2 turned things over, choosing what she would package up and send off to Cambodia. For a time I had that foreboding you feel when you start to stuff a sleeping bag back into its seemingly too small case, but by this time the world travelling daughter and her team were  efficiency incarnate.  She rifled through the largest boxes at speed while I packed up bags of fabric and clothes that were to go off to Cambodia. Meanwhile Muscle loaded the van while my husband folded down and cut up the empty cardboard boxes ready for regular council collecting services this Thursday.  By the time the sun had set Daughter No 3 and son were packed up and off back to the store for their last delivery. I collapsed on the sofa delighted to be home a good 5 hours before my usual Friday homecoming and even more delighted that I need no longer have dreams involving packing boxes – nor feel the need to blog about them.

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  1. Mary
    Posted November 8, 2021 at 11:16 pm | Permalink

    Sounds like a giant, movable life-sized Tetris game. Having gone through similar moving versions with four adult children–at least two of whom have lived in far flung locations for years at a time–I can only commiserate with you. I can also say I am still in possession of some of their possessions…

    • Mary Addison
      Posted November 9, 2021 at 11:49 am | Permalink

      Yes, Tetris – or even Rubik’s Cube!
      From what you say of your experience, Mary, you obviously understand exactly!

  2. ceci
    Posted November 9, 2021 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

    This really strikes a chord for me – both kids moved out gradually, and my husband, who lost possessions he treasured when his parents moved and discarded things he thought were stored there, is never going to get rid of “their stuff”. On the other hand we hate to turn every visit home into an exercise in decluttering.

    Your approach seems cheerful and effective. And the sofa bit of the story is hilarious.


    • Mary Addison
      Posted November 9, 2021 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

      I too, like your husband, lost family things, so part of me understands that.
      On the other hand, though it’s a real bore decluttering oneself and getting children to declutter when they visit, it becomes a necessity.
      Nice to hear others feeling similarly.

  3. Posted November 9, 2021 at 2:23 pm | Permalink

    I was completely delighted by the phrase “household furniture devoid of incendiary possibilities” – thank you!

    And yes, that’s a delightful little nosegay!

    • Mary Addison
      Posted November 9, 2021 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

      Now I come to consider it, sofas of course are classic subjects of incendiary possibilities.
      Thank you for knowing what I meant.

      • Posted November 15, 2021 at 4:51 pm | Permalink

        So classic, in fact, that I still have memories of some photographs of fire-testing on some fabric my Dad was working on. Fabric with various treatments, made up into upholstered panels, or curtain-like things, to test the effect of the treatments and the method of use…

        You’re welcome!

        • Mary Addison
          Posted November 20, 2021 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

          That sounds fascinating for what you hint at but don’t actually spell out. So, while you and your mother work with embellishing fabric, it seems your father also also had an interest but from a more technical point of view – presumably as part of his job? I’d love to hear more.

          • Posted November 21, 2021 at 5:49 pm | Permalink

            My Dad was an industrial chemist, and his first work was in textiles. He had some interest in textile finishing, and several friends who ran companies doing it!

          • Mary Addison
            Posted November 21, 2021 at 11:30 pm | Permalink

            How interesting, Rachel. And how that side of things must have changed since he started out. It’s a whole side of the textile business few of us ever spend much time thinking about until comparatively recently.

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